March 17, 2012

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Bryant Takes It to Albany in Fast-Paced Victory

from press release

ALBANY, N.Y. – Sophomore Colin Dunster (Cos Cob, Conn.) netted a career-high five goals while rookie Kevin Massa (Huntington, N.Y.) was perfect from the faceoff X in the second half as the Bryant University men's lacrosse team held off a late Albany charge to take a 14-12 win over the Great Danes on the road Saturday afternoon.

The Bulldogs (4-2) entered the fourth quarter with an 11-7 lead and scored the first three goals of the frame in the opening three minutes, but Albany (0-6) would not go down without a fight, scoring the final five-straight tallies of the contest over the closing nine minutes to close the gap to 14-12. Despite 14 Great Dane shots in the final period, though, Bryant held off the onslaught of shots for its third-straight victory and first road win of the season.

"We had a great week of practice over Spring Break, and I was very pleased with and proud of my guys," said head coach Mike Pressler. "We were really ready to play today, and I commend our guys for that."

The first quarter featured a back-and-forth affair between the two sides, as Albany's game-opening goal was answered quickly by consecutive tallies from Dunster and Travis Harrington (Vestal, N.Y.) with just 12 seconds of separation for a 2-1 Bulldog edge.

Miles Thompson, the day's top scorer with an impressive six goals, retied the game six seconds later, and junior Mason Poli (Downingtown, Pa.) netted his first score of what would turn out to be his first-career hat trick with 7:06 to play in the first, marking the fourth goal of the last 26 seconds for a 3-2 Bulldog advantage.

"The pace was incredible, especially in the first half," said Pressler. "It was so back and forth. We got them in transition a couple times, they countered on us, and next thing you know, we're up, 10-7, at half."

Albany knotted the game at 3-3 on a man-up Thompson goal with under five minutes to play in the first, but the Bulldogs would open up another lead in the following seconds, and this time the Great Danes wouldn't be able to match it.

Dunster scored back-to-back tallies to bring his team's lead to 5-3 and to bring the clock down to 3:49, but Thompson would complete his hat trick and close out the quarter's scoring for a 5-4 margin in the visitors' favor.

"Colin lets the game come to him," said Pressler, "and after being shut out against Drexel last week, he was spectacular in doing just that today. He let the game come to him, and he did a terrific job in making those plays."

In the second, the Bulldogs exploded for four uninterrupted goals in a span of less than four minutes to start the frame, upping their lead to 9-4 off goals from four different sources in Dunster, Harrington, Peter McMahon (Wilton, Conn.) and Cody Isdaner (Gladwyne, Pa.).

Albany stopped Bryant's spurt at four with 4:30 to go before the halftime break off yet another Thompson tally, but again, the Black and Gold had an answer, as Poli took a pass from Massa right off a faceoff win to rip a shot past Albany goalie John Carroll.

Joe Resetarits and Lyle Thompson ended the first half with consecutive scores for the home team, but Bryant would still head to the intermission with a 10-7 advantage.

And for all the rapid-fire scoring in the opening two periods, the third stanza saw the teams combine for just a single score, a McMahon tally assisted by Dunster, who finished the game tied for the contest high with six points.

"I think both teams were a little tired due to the pace of the first half," said Pressler. "But with Peter McMahon's score, we're up, 11-7, going into the fourth. We had that three-goal burst early on, and our thought was 'can we get another goal or two and put this away?'"

Entering the final frame with a four-goal advantage was nearly not enough, though, and Bryant would need its three early-quarter goals. Poli scored the Bulldogs' 12th goal of the game just 21 seconds into the period, completing his first-career hat trick, once again off a Massa faceoff win, and Dunster followed 1:35 later with his final score of the day for a 13-7 Bryant edge.

Dunster's final goal was assisted by linemate Max Weisenberg (Long Beach, N.Y.), who decided to get on the board himself a minute later with 12 minutes remaining in the game. The goal would turn out to be the last for the visitors, who would soon face a driven Albany attack that wouldn't let up until the very last whistle.

"You're looking at the scoreboard and its 14-7 in our favor with 12 minutes to go," said Pressler. "From then on, I was very disappointed in how we finished the game. But Albany had a lot to do with that because they kept battling to the very end.

"And give Albany credit," he added. "We were on our heels there. But at the end of the day, I am very pleased with a hard-fought road win against a very tough and very dangerous Albany team."

In the fourth, the home side outshot Bryant, 14-7, and capitalized on nine Bulldog turnovers. But Bryant got a pair of saves from senior goalie Jameson Love(Darien, Conn.), who finished the day with 11 for his sixth-straight double-figure save outing of the season, and the Black and Gold dominated Albany on the ground, picking up 17 ground balls to the Great Danes' six over the final 15 minutes.

"That's one great stat, but on the other hand, we turned the ball over nine times in the fourth quarter," said Pressler. "We might have been all over them on the ground, but at the end of the day, almost half our turnovers in the game came in the fourth down the stretch, and that can't happen."

But the biggest story for the Bulldogs was the second-half play of Massa, who went a perfect 10-for-10 from the faceoff X in the final two quarters to finish 23-of-29 on the day. Bryant saw four goals come as a direct result of a faceoff win, and Massa finished the afternoon with a career-high three assists. Sophomore Alex Zomerfeld (Port Jefferson, N.Y.) would also finish with three helpers.

"That was as dominant a performance at the faceoff X as I haven seen in a long, long time," said Pressler. "Albany threw everyone at him, and he was just spectacular. I just can't say enough about Kevin's consistent play and the huge performance on the road against the Great Danes."

On the day, Albany outshot its visitors, 38-36, and went 3-for-5 on man-up opportunities to Bryant's 0-for-4 mark. The Bulldogs owned the ground ball battle, 36-21, thanks in large part to a career-best 13 from Massa. Bryant recorded 11 caused turnovers in the contest, led by four from sophomore Matt MacGrotty (New Westminster, B.C.).

The Bulldogs will now return home to host Stony Brook University and put their season's first winning streak on the line Saturday, March 24 at 1 p.m.


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